CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Meeting in a statewide convention over the weekend in Cherokee, delegates of the North Carolina Republican Party adopted their new party platform, reasserting some anti-LGBT clauses and softening others.

In 2012, state Republicans’ platform called for support of both state and federal constitutional amendments limiting the right to marriage. But, this year, perhaps in response to the wave of federal judicial victories on marriage equality, that anti-gay opposition has waned slightly. The adopted platform makes no mention of a federal constitutional amendment and now states, “We support the marriage amendment as part of the North Carolina Constitution and encourage all efforts to defend it.”

Other changes, too, softened the party platform’s anti-gay animus. In 2012, the platform said, “We oppose adoption by same sex couples.” That line was struck completely, replaced in a similar section with support for single parents and the line, “We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.”

The newest version also drops the line, “We oppose taxpayer-funded initiatives that support cohabitation, include taxpayer-funded benefit plans for unmarried partners.”

On public school sex education curriculum, however, the party’s platform remained essentially unchanged, calling for government to teach “abstinence until marriage as the expected norm for sexual behavior” and stating, “Public schools should not be used to teach children about homosexual behavior.”

In 2012, state Republicans came under fire for a provision specifically targeting sexual orientation for discrimination. In its proposed platform, the party said government should treat all people impartially, regardless of race, religion, sex and other characteristics, while also stating, “Sexual orientation is not an appropriate category.”

The final version of the adopted 2012 platform, however, stated simply, “Government should treat all citizens impartially.”

The version approved this weekend expanded that statement: “Government should treat all citizens impartially and equally under the law. Discrimination is a detrimental to freedom for all individuals and we oppose it in any form.”

North Carolina Republicans’ platform on LGBT equality has come a long way in 10 years. In 2006, an entire section of the platform was devoted to anti-equality measures, including opposition to repeal of the military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and other forceful statements.

At the time, the party platform read in part: “We believe homosexual behavior is not normal and should not be taught as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle either in public education or in public policy. … We oppose special treatment by law based on homosexual behavior or identity. … We oppose attempts to legitimize homosexual relationships by placing such relationships on an equal footing with marriage.”

North Carolina Republicans’ softening on anti-LGBT discrimination stands in stark contrast to other state Republican parties. Also meeting this weekend, state GOP delegates in Texas adopted a plank recognizing “the legitimacy and efficacy of counseling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle.”

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

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